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June 27, 2013

Peter Richter ’71 to be inducted into International Academy of Trial Lawyers

One of Peter Richter's earliest memories is standing eye to eye with a Russian army guard dog. The year was 1947. 

Richter was three-years-old and his family had just boarded a train heading to Germany in hopes of escaping Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia. Richter and his mother had waited nervously, yet patiently in a hotel room for his father to pick them up with the forged papers he obtained allowing them to make their way West.

With the help of two American G.I.s, the family made it to West Germany. When Richter was six-years-old, the family came to the United States, settling in Yakima, Wash., and eventually in Lake Oswego, Ore.

Now, after practicing law for more than forty years, Richter, who earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon and is a 1971 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, has accepted an invitation to become a fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. The standards for admission as a fellow are high, requiring outstanding skills and significant experience as a trial lawyer, and the nomination process, a thorough vetting by the nominee's peers and judges, is extensive. Membership in the academy, by invitation only, is limited to 500 fellows in the United States and includes fellows from 30 other countries. He will be inducted on July 17.

Getting to this point wasn't always an easy path for Richter, a partner in the Portland law firm of Miller Nash. He overcame immense cultural and personal adversity after his family arrived in the United States. He stuttered until he was a senior in high school and was discouraged from pursuing a college degree.

"I wasn't the best student in high school," Richter admits. "My guidance counselor urged me to join the service, but all of my friends were going to the UO, so I wanted to go as well."

Richter recalls, as he was leaving for Eugene, his father handing him a checkbook with $1500. "He told me this had to last my four years," Richter remembers. "It didn't last all four years, and I had to work to put myself through school."

Following graduation, Richter decided to stay at the UO to attend law school; something that had always interested him since his father briefly studied law in Prague.

Despite the rigor, Richter has fond memories of his days at Oregon Law.

"The professors were amazing," he notes. "Professors [Dom] Vetri, [Jon] Jacobson and [Eugene] Scoles were very influential."

Richter joined Miller Nash in 1973, becoming partner in 1978. He credits fellow Oregon Law alumnus Norman Wiener '47 for helping him get his first interview at Miller Nash.

"Norm has been a dear friend. He says he has taught me 'almost' everything he knows," Richter says, laughing.

Having tried cases in many areas of law, Richter now focuses on commercial and tort litigation and helping clients resolve their legal problems favorably, efficiently, economically, and professionally whether through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or jury trials. He describes himself as an "internist" helping businesses and individuals "find the right lawyer for their particular legal problem, whether himself, someone in his 100-plus lawyer firm, or another lawyer in the legal community."

Richter has received numerous professional awards, including the Federal Bar Association—Oregon Chapter—Civil Practice Award; Oregon State Bar Special President's Award of Appreciation; was a Leadership in Law finalist of the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce; and has received Certificates of Appreciation from Lewis and Clark Law School, Oregon Law Institute, American Inns of Court, Multnomah County Bar Association and Multnomah County Circuit Court.

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